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Behavioral health

MercyCare Health Plans provides behavioral health services for the evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders and addiction (alcohol and drug or substance abuse) disorders. Services are available for adults and children. Members may be seen individually or as a family.

How to make an appointment

Mental health and addiction treatment services are available to you and your family, depending on the plan you selected and your certificate of coverage. As a first step, you may wish to make an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP) to discuss your concerns and symptoms.

  • PCPs treat many mental health and substance abuse disorders. Your PCP is knowledgeable about these disorders.
  • Medical problems could be a possible cause of your symptoms, and your primary care physician can evaluate possible medical causes for your symptoms. Your PCP may order tests or recommend further evaluation of your symptoms.
  • Your PCP may already know you and your family, so you may be comfortable discussing your symptoms with him/her.
  • Many mental health and addiction problems have a biological basis (possible imbalance of proteins in certain areas of the brain).

Or you could make an appointment directly with a specialist (counselor, therapist, addictions therapist or psychologist). These specialists have training to evaluate and treat mental health and substance abuse disorders.

  • Behavioral health specialists who evaluate and treat adults and children, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors and addiction counselors, are available to you.
  • Specialists in mental health and addictions provide screening, intake, and assessment and treatment planning. Treatments may include one-to-one talk therapy or group therapy.
  • With your permission, these specialists will communicate with your PCP about your evaluation and the care you need.
  • Your mental health or substance abuse specialist and your PCP can provide you with a coordinated approach to your care.
  • Specialists in mental health and substance abuse are knowledgeable about causes of mental health disorders that have a biological basis (possible imbalance or proteins in certain areas of the brain).

What to expect when you make an appointment

When you call a mental health clinic, the receptionist will schedule an assessment appointment for you.

  1. At your first assessment appointment, your provider will talk with you and gather information about your symptoms and your situation.
  2. Your provider will determine what services are best for you and whether you need counseling, often referred to as “talk therapy”.
  3. You may be asked to see a counselor or therapist prior to seeing a psychiatrist (the specialist that prescribes medication). Counseling or therapy is considered an important part of treatment of behavioral health or addictions disorders.
  4. Your provider may also recommend further evaluation appointments, or an appointment with the psychiatrist, depending on your individual needs.
  5. Your provider may refer you to other resources or professionals, depending on your symptoms and your situation.

In case of emergency

If you or your family member is suicidal, homicidal or experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room.


If you have questions about your mental health or addictions assessment or treatment, please call the provider who is helping you. Call MercyCare's customer service department at 800.895.2421 with questions about prior authorization for services, specialists available (network providers), how to make an appointment or the terms of your certificate of coverage.

Additional behavioral health areas

Specialists in mental health and addictions treatment

Addictions psychiatrist (AP): A medical doctor trained in psychiatry who has specialized training and practice in addictions disorders. He/she may also provide assessment and medication treatment for alcohol and substance abuse disorders as well as talk therapy.

Advanced practice nurse prescriber (APNP): A nurse specialist who assesses behavioral health disorders and prescribes medication for behavioral health disorders.

Clinical substance abuse counselor (CSAC): A therapist who assesses and treats addiction disorders in an individual or group setting.

Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW): A therapist who provides talk therapy or behavior therapy in an individual or group setting.

Licensed professional counselor (LPC): A therapist who provides talk therapy or behavior therapy in an individual or group setting.

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who provides assessment and prescribes medication for behavioral health disorders. He/she may also provide talk therapy.

Psychologist: A PhD doctoral level professional who provides talk therapy or behavioral therapy in an individual or group setting, and who may offer specialized individual psychological evaluation and testing.

Substance abuse counselor: A therapist who treats addiction disorders in an individual or group setting.

Check our online provider directory for a listing of specialists (network providers), phone numbers and locations in your area when your choose a provider, or if your PCP suggested a provider to you.


Depression is a common mental health disorder that can be treated by your PCP or mental health specialist. People with depression often feel sad, down and blue. They may have lost interest in joyful activities, have low energy, sleep problems, poor concentration, or feelings of excessive guilt or self-blame. They may experience thoughts about death or suicide.

Thoughts about death or suicide require an emergency evaluation. Symptoms of depression must be evaluated by your PCP or a behavioral health specialist. Your provider may screen for depression and assess your symptoms. Talk therapy and medication are proven to help symptoms of depression. Generally, after your physician or psychiatrist prescribes medication for depression, three follow-up appointments occur within the first three months of treatment, and you usually stay on medication six to nine months, if it is the first time you have experienced depression.

Depression screening (PHQ-9)

Adults may screen themselves for depression using a common screening tool. This tool is called the PHQ-9. You may take the answers to this depression screening to your PCP or behavioral health specialist. Your provider will discuss the results of this screening with you. Your physician, mental health provider or addictions provider may give you the screen for depression at your first visit. If your score is five or greater, you may need further evaluation to determine if you have depression. Periodically, your physician or provider may have you take the screen again to see if the medication you are taking is having positive results.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression symptoms include blue mood and sadness, poor concentration, lack of interest in the baby or mothering, low energy or an inability to feel rested, fatigue, excessive guilt, appetite or weight changes, or thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts. Obsessive worries about the baby or excessive concerns about harm coming to the baby may be present. Hearing voices, loss of touch with reality, or hearing voices and having psychotic thoughts require emergency evaluation.

Women who deliver babies may be at risk for developing postpartum depression if they have a history of depression, a previous history of postpartum depression or a family member that has experienced postpartum depression. A woman can develop postpartum depression even if she hasn’t had depression prior to the pregnancy or delivery.

Any thoughts of death or suicide also require emergency evaluation. Postpartum depression is more than the “baby blues” and it is treatable by therapy and/or medications. Mothers who are pregnant or who are in the postpartum months can screen themselves for depression using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale screening, a common self-screening tool used to evaluate the symptoms of depression.

Substance abuse

Many people have alcohol and/or drug abuse problems. These problems are frequently called addiction disorders. Addiction disorders are treatable, and many new treatments are available. Your PCP or behavioral health specialist can screen you for the presence of these disorders. If you get screened online, you can take the information to your health care provider to discuss the results of the screening and to see if any further screening is necessary and to discuss treatment options. Outpatient support groups, counseling, day programs and more intensive treatments may be available to you. At your first assessment appointment, it can be determined which treatment will best suit your individual needs.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Many children and adults suffer from this disorder of attention, focus and concentration, and many may also have hyperactivity. Your pediatrician or PCP may screen you or your child for this disorder or they may refer you to a behavioral health specialist for an evaluation. Many sources of helpful information about this common disorder are available to you online.

Your treating provider will provide you with an assessment and use information from your child’s school to determine if the disorder is present. Your provider can also make treatment recommendations that best suit your individual needs. Generally, if you are treated with an ADHD medication, follow-up includes a visit to your prescribing provider within 30 days and two follow-up visits after that 30 day period within nine months.

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